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Officials: Irma Debris Could Linger In State For Months

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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Officials across the state of Florida say the cleanup of debris left in Hurricane Irma's wake could last until the end of hurricane season.

In the hard-hit Florida Keys, Monroe County officials say 400 members of the Florida National Guard are helping to remove debris.

In the Gainesville area, officials said debris pickups could take three months because many crews were picking up more work in the southern part of Florida.

Up and down Florida's peninsula, county officials say tree limbs made up the bulk of the storm debris being hauled away.

In Brevard County, officials said Irma produced more debris than Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Cleanup after Matthew took over a month along Florida's Atlantic coast.

Irma made landfall twice on Sept. 10 with significant storm surge, first at Cudjoe Key with 130 mph winds and then again at Marco Island with 115 mph.

Residents said the odors of sewage, mold and sawdust still filled the air this week on Cudjoe Key.

According to a report by The Citizen newspaper , people's soaked belongings littered the area, and partially sunken boats floated with furniture, bicycles and other debris in the brown waters of a clogged canal.

Publix produce manager Eric Wright and his girlfriend, Kristin Story, an accountant in Key West, said mold damage on their ceiling and walls meant they might not be able to move back into their rented home.

"It will take a year, at least, to clean all this up," Wright said.

In southwest Florida, the Naples Daily News reported that several homes were still flooded in a Bonita Springs neighborhood where residents stacked black garbage bags in3-foot-tall piles at the curb.

"We couldn't do anything for 12 days. The water was still in my property," said Rodney Malone, who wore a mask while examining walls where mold spores grew above a dark water line left 3 feet from the floor.

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